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26 Traditional Indian Foods That Will Change Your Life Forever

BRB, booking plane tickets to Mumbai.

1. Biryani

What It Is: An aromatic rice dish cooked with several spices, notably saffron, and a protein (typically chicken or mutton) that's been marinated.

Perfect For: A huge family dinner.

Feels Like: Hearing the neighborhood mosque sound its azan for evening prayers.

2. Momos

3. Idli

What It Is: A heavy South Indian breakfast food. A fermented batter of ground rice and lentils, steamed in little circular moulds.

Perfect For: When you're done sleeping in on a Saturday morning.

Feels Like: Being woken up by the smell of cooking.

4. Gulab jaamun

5. Chole bhature

6. Nethili varuval

7. Kati roll

What It Is: A traditional street food popular across India (and abroad). A wrap of kebabs, eggs, vegetables, and spices rolled into paratha (a type of flat bread).

Perfect For: When you need a meal on-the-go. Also a great way to use up leftovers.

Feels Like: Standing on a dusty Kolkata street-corner at dusk, watching families go home through rush hour traffic.

8. Rajma

What It Is: Kidney beans in a thick gravy popular across North India.

Perfect For: An accompaniment for rice, particularly delicious when served piping hot in the winter.

Feels Like: Summer holidays at your grandparents' house.

9. Pani puri

What It Is: A small crisp hollow round bread filled with spiced water, tamarind paste, potato, onion, and chickpeas.

Perfect For: When you're craving a thousand flavors at once.

Feels Like: Drunkenly challenging your best friend to a contest of who can eat more of these, and then feeling like your mouth is on fire.

10. Jalebi

11. Tandoori chicken

12. Banana chips

What It Is: Thin slices of banana deep fried in savory spices.

Perfect For: Munching on while watching your favorite movie.

Feels Like: The wind flying through your hair as you sail down Kerala's backwaters in a houseboat.

13. Baingan bharta

14. Dosa

15. Bhelpuri

16. Vada

What It Is: A South Indian snack staple made of a lentil or flour batter fried into a doughnut shape.

Perfect For: A neutral carb to accompany your craving for chutney and lentils.

Feels Like: A morning raga.

17. Bhindi masala fry

What It Is: Okra stuffed with spices, fried.

Perfect For: A vegetarian dish that's both exciting and comfort food.

Feels Like: Mom's cooking.

18. Rogan josh

19. Dhokla

20. Gaajar halwa

What It Is: An extremely popular dessert, made by cooking grated carrot with milk, sugar, and dried fruits.

Perfect For: A piping hot wintertime dessert.

Feels Like: Wrapping a shawl around yourself and sitting by a heater on a chilly Delhi evening.

21. Pakora

22. Rumali roti

What It Is: The word "rumal" is Hindi for handkerchief, and this bread resembles one; it is large, as thin as cloth, and served folded like a napkin.

Perfect For: When you need bread but want something lighter than naan.

Feels Like: Watching with child-like awe as a chef tosses the dough up in the air and spins it in circles.

23. Papri chaat

24. Kulfi

25. Recheado masala fish

26. And, finally, samosas.

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